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Veteran labor activist Li Wangyang sentenced

September 20, 2001

Li Wangyang, veteran labor rights activist from Hunan Province, was sentenced to ten years in prison for "incitement to subvert state power" in the People's Intermediate Court of Shaoyang on September 20. Li was charged with the crime after his case attracted international media attention and he established contacts with foreign organizations.

The heavy sentence comes two weeks after Li's conviction on September 5, and at a time when international attention is least likely to be focused on individual cases in China. Li's sister, Li Wanglin has already been sentenced to three years of "reeducation through labor" (laojiao) for the same offense.

Li was taken from Daxiang Hospital in Hunan Province on May 6th where he was receiving treatment for numerous health conditions he developed while serving a 11-year prison term for counterrevolutionary crimes,following the 1989 demonstrations. Both Li and his sister were detained after Li made repeated appeals to the government to pay for medical treatment for the lung, heart, and respiratory ailments he suffers from.

Li Wangyang is one of the earliest advocates and fighters for independent labor unions in China. He founded the Shaoyang Autonomous Workers Union during the 1989 democracy demonstrations.